Moths come in an incredible variety of shapes and sizes! And while beauty is subjective; most people would agree that few of them are as breathtaking as the African Moon Moth (Argema mimosae). These bright yellow moths with elegant tails on their hindwings can be found in tropical subsaharan Africa.
Argema mimosae is a moth that’s found in tropical subsaharan Africa including South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania – where the moths are seasonally found in tropical rainforest or savannah woodlands.
The larvae of Argema mimosae have elongated, fleshy tubercules, with a small arrangement of spines and hairs on top of them. They come in two varieties: green and (more rarely) yellow.
They seem somewhat polyphagous and feed on numerous types of shrubs and trees in Africa; including but not limited to Sclerocarya caffra, Sclerocarya birrea, Commiphora mollis, Spirostachys africana, Eucalyptus, Excoecaria africana and more; in captivity (Europe, USA) moth enthousiasts have also managed to raise them on numerous non-native plants such as Liquidambar, Cotinus, Juglans, Rhus, and Euphorbia.
Argema mimosa is also a commercially important species; in Africa, the species is farmed for exportation to butterfly farms, and insect enthousiasts. There’s a chance that if you ever visited a butterfly house, you’ve seen these moths (or their larger cousin from Madagascar; Argema mittrei!). Butterfly farming is a sustainable source of income for the locals in Africa.
While the flight time of this species may vary locally depending oin the microclimate; generally speaking, the flight season of the moth is from October to March. Reportedly, the species tends to have two generations a year – the second brood diapausing (staying dormant) through the dry season as cocoons. Emergence is probably triggered by the warm monsoon rains during the rainy season.
Difficulty rating: Moderate – rearing the larvae is not super hard, but you do need basic experience. Pairing the moths is more tricky, considering how sporadically they can emerge from cocoons (and in some occassions adults seem to refuse to ma
Rearing difficulty: 6.5/10
Pairing difficulty: 8/10
Host plants: Sclerocarya caffra, Sclerocarya birrea, Commiphora mollis, Spirostachys africana, Eucalyptus, Excoecaria africana – in captivity often raised on Liquidambar (Sweetgum), Cotinus (Smoketree), Juglans (Walnut), Rhus (Sumac) , and certain types of Euphorbia (Spurge). Larvae grow well on several plants from the Anacardiaceae family.
Natural range: South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania
Polyphagous: Yes, very!
Generations: 1-2 broods a year!
Family: Saturniidae (silkmoths)
Pupation: Cocoon (silk encasing)
Prefered climate: Tropical. Warm and humid!
Special notes: High humidity is important for captive rearing. Anacardiaceae host plants recommended.
Estimated wingspan: 80mm-125mm (medium sized Saturniid)
If you want to raise Argema mimosae, it is a good idea to choose Anacardiaceae plants (Rhus, Cotinus, maybe even Pistachia) and also, while in a seperate plant family, Liquidambar.
The eggs of this species are pale, near white but with a slight brownish tinge and oval. Around room temperature (21C) caterpillars will hatch from their eggs in about two weeks time. Eggs can be incubated in petri dishes, or closed plastic containers.